Falling prices had made homeownership more affordable, but only in some areas. In some major cities, working couples still can't afford to buy.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jun 8, 2012 9:50AM
One of the silver linings to the sharp decline in home prices in the past five years is that first-time homebuyers who had been shut out of the market were able to afford homes again. Unless they lived in expensive areas such as New York, Boston, Hawaii, San Francisco and other places where median home prices still are far above the ability of working couples to afford.


Teachers Steve and Logan Kinney, who lived in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, have excellent credit and would like to buy a house. But their budget of $250,000 puts most of the New York City area out of reach.


Zillow analyzed income and home-price data to come up with a list of cities where now is a good time to buy. We've also got a lot of cities where it's still a buyers market.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jun 7, 2012 11:04AM

Grand Rapids, Mich.

©Panoramic Images/Getty ImagesThis year's mixed real-estate statistics serve to remind us that, yes, all real estate is local.


Former basket-case cities such as Phoenix and Miami are rising from the ashes, while cities such as Atlanta that initially didn't suffer precipitous drops in property values are continuing to see home prices drop.


Zillow looked at several key factors and came up with a list of the places to buy a home in 2012, plus a list of the cities where you can afford to bargain.


Former missile silo in rural Kansas offered eight units for $1 million to $2 million, with everything you need to survive for years after a disaster.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jun 6, 2012 11:33AM

Survivalcondo.comWith all the flesh-eating in the news lately, you may once again be worried about the zombie apocalypse.


We're sorry to say you have missed your chance at a zombie-proof condo. The eight units at a former missile silo in Concordia, Kan., are all sold out. The underground units cost $1 million for a half-floor unit of about 900 square feet and $2 million for a full-floor unit of 1,820 square feet.


Those are big prices for Concordia, where homes are listed from $18,000 to $385,000. The site is in rural Kansas about 220 miles northwest of Kansas City, Mo.

Tags: celebrity

The color you choose for your front door may send a message about your personality and the atmosphere inside your home.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jun 6, 2012 8:06AM

© David Papazian/Getty ImagesWhat does your front door say about you?


According to the Paint Quality Institute, your front-door color is a key to your personality as well as to the atmosphere inside your home.


"Like a necktie, which is the focal point of an outfit, the front door is the focal point of the home," writes Debbie Zimmer, the editor of the institute's newsletter. "The color there sends a strong message – in the case of the front door, providing insight into how we view our home."


After shrinking for four years, the size of the average new home completed in 2011 rose to 2,480 square feet. The average price fell again.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jun 5, 2012 12:57PM

Real-estate agent handing keys to homebuyers. © Mark Scott/Getty ImagesHouses are getting bigger.


The average size of a new home completed in 2011 was 2,480 square feet, up from 2,392 square feet in 2010, a new census report shows.


In 1973, the earliest year represented in the report, the average new home had 1,660 square feet. That number increased steadily, to 2,521 in 2007, then had fallen each year until 2011.


Long Island residents' push for preservation saved a historic house and led McDonald's to design an unusual store.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jun 5, 2012 12:29PM

ScoutNY.comMany of us have enjoyed a meal in a restaurant that was converted from an old home. But most of those meals didn't include Big Macs or any other fast food.


In New Hyde Park, N.Y., on Long Island, you can eat your McNuggets and fries in splendor, in a mansion that dates to 1795 and has been converted to one of the nation's most attractive McDonald's restaurants.


The architectural gem was spotted by Nick Carr, a film location scout who posted a number of interior and exterior photos on his blog, Scouting NY.

Tags: celebrity

Researchers find that urban homes near a national wildlife refuge are worth 3% to 9% more than homes that are farther away.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jun 4, 2012 1:09PM

© Getty ImagesHomes in urban areas near wildlife refuges are worth 3% to 9% more than homes that aren't near refuges, according to a new study.


A study commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and conducted by researchers at North Carolina State University found that being within half a mile of a wildlife refuge raised property values 4% to 5% in the Northeast, 7% to 9% in the Southeast and 3% to 6% in the California/Nevada region. Other regions were not included in the study.


"National wildlife refuges are public treasures that protect imperiled wildlife and delight visitors," Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said in a news release. "These findings remind us that refuges also boost community health, sometimes in unexpected ways. National wildlife refuges enrich local communities ─ even in a lean economy – and generate revenue."


Pilot programs in Nevada and California will use federal funds to pay for the mortgage relief, and the two loan entities will not be required to contribute.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jun 4, 2012 1:07PM

Up to this point, if your underwater mortgage was backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you had no chance of seeing any principal forgiven. That relief was available only to mortgages held by other lenders.


Now the two government-supported entities have signed on to pilot programs in Nevada and California and will write down up to $50,000 of principal in Nevada and $100,000 in California.


What made the difference? In those states, Fannie and Freddie will receive whatever they write down from federal funds administered through a state program.


"Principal reduction combined with mortgage refinancing will mean hundreds of dollars returning to the pockets of homeowners," Terry Johnson, director of the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, said in a news release. "This effort represents our continued focus on combating the worst housing crisis seen in a generation and in the state hit hardest by it."



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